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The situation was more nuanced than a binary choice. And ultimately, the invasion's legal justification didn't revolve around Saddam's human rights record, but the stories of a single man: an Iraqi asylum seeker named Curveball.

Before this man came to us, he first sought refuge in several European countries. We know this because German intelligence officials came to us repeatedly with warnings that he had told them a different set of tall tales before being discredited as a liar. And they warned us, and warned us, and warned us, but the Bush administration still decided to cite this guy's "testimony" before our nation and the world.

The proposal was then framed in such a way to exploit patriotic sympathies over unrelated events. For this reason, the war effort received wide popular support, and a not insignificant percentage of Americans still believe Saddam orchestrated 9/11.

After we started a war based on lies—just to be clear, he has since admitted to fabricating the story—we rolled up with the strongest military in the world and eradicated Saddam in the blink of an eye. But because the war was started with ulterior pretenses, we did so without any responsible oversight.

Now, if we just forget everything above and assume the war had instead been started with right motives, we already knew for years that removing Saddam was a problematic proposition. Again, we came to this place with the most powerful military in the world, and these problems were not beyond our control—but we showed up when there was no cohesive opposition movement, and then we handed the keys over to some people that were pretty clearly less than competent, which has enabled groups with their shit together like ISIS to wreak havoc on the region.

At the end of the day, we replaced a menacing but moderately effective dictatorship with a teetering Islamic republic that just pulls the same shit as Saddam for the same reasons when it's convenient. There's little room to say that the plan benefitted Iraqis, but hopefully at least the infrastructure upgrades we brought with our presence will help the areas outside Baghdad inch closer to leaving the dark ages.

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